Alice Springs conference hosts over 150 participants
Sep 30, 2021
The 2021 Knowledge Intersections Symposium was held at the Desert Knowledge Precinct and hosted more than 150 people, both in-person and online.
More than 110 people gathered at the Desert Knowledge Precinct in Alice Springs, with an additional 40 joining in online, to share their knowledge, ideas and experiences in desert research.
The 2021 Knowledge Intersections Symposium hosted 39 presentations under five key themes: Enterprise; Language and Learning; Health and Wellbeing; Knowledge Sharing; and Knowledge Intersections.
The event, now in its fourth edition since 2017, built on the previous years’ traditional symposium format to include innovative practice events: traditional tool making, a healing tent, and market stalls.
“The Knowledge Intersections Symposium is a unique knowledge-sharing event where academic and cultural knowledges converge. It is a celebration of the central Australian region and the elements that make it so remarkable: its people, its collective knowledge, and its resilience.”
- Dr Dan Tyson [Managing Director, Desert Knowledge Research Institute]
The Symposium provides a space for both established and early-career researchers, as well as PhD students and local organisations, to come together and share knowledge relating to central Australia.
The 2021 Symposium took place over 20 and 21 September; and was co-hosted by the Desert Knowledge Research Institute (DKRI), Charles Darwin University (CDU), Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE), and the Desert Peoples Centre.
20 September: Welcome Function
The two-day event kicked off at a gathering on the evening of 20 September, with a ‘Welcome to Precinct’ by Intercultural Elder-in-Residence Harold Furber. Harold set the tone for the event by highlighting the Precinct’s core purpose – which is to bring people together and share knowledge for the benefit of the community.
Dr Dan Tyson (Managing Director, DKRI & CEO, DKA) then said a few words welcoming the crowd on behalf of DKA, where people had gathered for the evening.
This was followed by the core Symposium team – Dr Judith Lovell (CDU), Assoc Prof John Guenther (BIITE), and Assoc Prof Kathryn Gilbey (BIITE) – addressing the crowd with the theme for this year’s event: to recognise and celebrate central Australian research, and support the intersection of desert knowledges, both academic and cultural. The team also expressed their gratitude to DKA Communications Officer Tracy Jones, who coordinated the event’s planning and promotion.
The rest of the evening was spent networking, and sharing stories about existing and upcoming projects.
21 September: Symposium and Innovation Streams
The main Symposium event on 21st morning began with all participants gathered at DKA’s Corkwood Room for a Welcome to Country by Traditional Owner Benedict Stevens, an Arrernte custodian and Lhere Artepe representative.
This was followed by three readings, which included:
- Veronica Turner; reading an excerpt from Iwenhe Tyerrtye: What it Means to be an Aboriginal Person (written by Barry McDonald and Margaret Kemarre Turner)
- Myra Faletau; delivering an excerpt from Listen Deeply: Let These Stories In (by Kathleen Wallace and Dr Judith Lovell)
- Shirley Turner; reading from Arelhekenhe Angkentye: Women’s Talk, Poems of Lyapirtneme from Arrernte Women in Central Australia
The keynote speakers, Leo Abbott and Assoc Prof Kathryn Gilbey, delivered the opening talk for the day, highlighting the celebration of local knowledge and outlining the need for communication. The pair spoke about the impact of knowledge intersections, and that it exists within the region through a response to Aboriginal voices, in leadership, research, ethics, evaluation, and in setting priorities for our communities and futures — communication is more than language.
The crowd then dispersed over the various sessions for the day, which ran concurrently over three streams at DKA and BIITE buildings at the Desert Knowledge Precinct. Thirty-nine presentations sessions were delivered by a combined total of 85 presenters, and covered enterprise, technology, Aboriginal language and history, mental health, education, economics, and many more. The various topics all had a common theme: sharing knowledge that benefits the central Australian community.
“The Symposium provided a great opportunity for us to share our experiences with an audience of community leaders and researchers with a wealth of knowledge. We learned a great deal from hearing others’ stories and appreciated the chance to make new connections.”
- Ellie Norris [PhD Candidate, Charles Darwin University]
Christiane Stolhofer and Penny Watson, friends from three decades ago, connect again at the Symposium via Zoom.
Market stalls and cultural activities were held over lunch, including traditional tool making by Jamie Tjupurrula, and a healing tent by the Sexual Assault Referral Centre. Batchelor Institute provided afternoon snacks and refreshments, and cooked kangaroo tails and damper on campus.
Pleasingly, the Symposium also provided a platform for the reunion of two friends from three decades past: Christiane Stolhofer, a wood sculptor in Botswana who presented online; and Penny Watson, an Alice Springs resident who attended when she chanced upon Christiane’s name in the program. The pair first met in 1987 when they were travelling through Africa, a time which marked Christiane’s transition from sculpting stone to carving wood.
Some of KIS 2021 Team: (L‑R) Dr Judith Lovell, Dr Dan Tyson, Tracy Jones, Assoc Prof John Guenther, Benicia Campbell-Acevedo, Prof Reuben Bolt, and Kate Wiles.
Participants showed engagement throughout the event, with many voicing appreciation for networking opportunities, the ability to share ideas, and the chance to learn about projects that they may not have otherwise come across.
The 2021 Knowledge Intersections Symposium brought together individuals from around Australia and even beyond, creating an inclusive platform to network, learn, and share desert knowledge.
The Desert Knowledge Research Institute, Charles Darwin University, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, and the Desert Peoples Centre thank everyone who participated in the 2021 Knowledge Intersections Symposium. We hope to see you at the next edition.